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Smart Home May Not Be Such A Smart Choice

August 10, 2014

In an era where getting the latest and greatest technology is of utmost importance, we must be conscientious to step back and analyze the implications of living life in such a way.

Technology can and has undoubtedly allowed our world to make major advances in almost every field of study. Nevertheless, our technology-driven world can also have security consequences that can affect each of us. The most common place technology introduces itself is inside our homes; our supposed “safe place”. But just how safe is it?

Smart technology has evolved to let users control a number of functions remotely from a computer, tablet, or smart phone. It is typical for the connection to be made via the internet, which is often not secured. An unsecured connection allows not only your personal information to be accessible, but also opens the door for a potential hacker to steal your valuables and even your bank account. Many use the latest applications (apps) to do simple tasks such as turn on lights or adjust the thermostat, but are also able to perform security measures such as turning on the alarm system or checking a bank account, with the simple push of a button. These great conveniences can make individuals extremely vulnerable. It is easy to unknowingly trade security for convenience while using these applications.

This is not intended to dissuade people from using technology, but rather to urge safe practice when using these great advances. The Target scandal of 2013, where millions of customer’s credit cards pins were stolen, provides a cautionary tale. If it can happen to a large scale corporation that employs thousands to provide security, it can happen to you.

However, there are measures that consumers can take to make themselves less vulnerable to these security intrusions. It is in the best interest of those who employ many smart devices around their home to hire a computer technician to configure a network that is different from the one used by personal computers. This network can then be setup to only communicate with the smart devices through an encrypted virtual private network (VPN). For around a $75 dollar fee and an hour of their time, an individual can save themselves from the slew of headaches that can be the result of a hacker. A simple step that everyone can preemptively take is to make passwords longer and more complex. To do this successfully, a password should be 10 to 15 characters long, use capital and lower case letters, and include numbers as well as a special character (.!?&* etc.) This simple step can resonate through all online activity to constantly keep you safe from the smart world we live in.